How do you get ahead as a theater actor in Dallas and Fort Worth? Try shaving it. Finding good roles is not a hairy problem for this quintet of talented gents who don't mind that their scalps occasionally upstage them. Herewith (and hair without), our list of the best bald pates on local stages.
1. Brian Mathis (above), born in Fort Worth and now a teacher at All Saints Christian School there, has used his shiny dome and booming baritone to great advantage in two of theater's best roles for baldies: Daddy Warbucks in Annie (he's played it many times, mostly recently at Casa Mañana) and the romantic lead Emile de Becque in South Pacific for Garland Summer Musicals. He's also sung in musicals at Lyric Stage and was one of the few native Texans in Dallas Theater Center's cast of the musical Giant. Mathis has a big voice, a big shiny head and a big future playing major roles in professional theater.
2. Barry Nash, already hair-free, also lost an arm (pretend-like) for his role in Eric Steele's scorching one-man play Bob Birdnow, produced by Second Thought Theatre. Nash repeats that role in the independent film version of Steele's Midwest Trilogy, which looks to be headed for the festival circuit. Nash is a company member at Kitchen Dog Theater, where he recently co-starred in Vicki Caroline Cheatwood's brilliant new play Ruth. He is also a top talent coach for television news anchors and reporters, including many at CNN and other networks. Nash is the author of The Handbook for Television Newscast Performance. One of his two daughters is talented young Dallas actress Barrett Nash, who specializes in girl characters who wig out onstage. Go figure.
3. David Coffee spent his summer with Fort Worth's Trinity Shakespeare Festival, starring in The Merchant of Venice and The Merry Wives of Windsor (he did not play one of those wives, but he did play Edna Turnblad in Casa's Hairspray last year). Coffee turned in a lovely performance with another baldy, David H.M. Lambert, as the Old Actor in Circle Theatre's The Fantasticks. For more than 30 years, he has played Scrooge in productions of A Christmas Carol - another of the evergreen roles for older actors whose locks have gone the way of autumn leaves.
4. Russell Dean Schultz wowed critics and audiences as the interrogator, Abraham van Valkenburgh, in Stage West's searing production of New Jerusalem, a play about the trial of the young philosopher Spinoza. When you don't have long tresses to toss around (as did Schultz's Stage West co-star Garret Storms, who has enough hair for 10 men), you have to work extra hard with your voice, which is what Schultz, a voice and diction expert, did in his role. He also starred in Echo Theatre's A Most Dangerous Woman. This fall Schultz takes a break from acting to teach voice at the University of Florida. Great job for an egghead.
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5. Ted Wold hasn't gone full-skin yet up top, but this balding actor doesn't try to hide what's happening there. Actually, his lack of hair just makes his expressive eyes more visible and his eyes are what you remember if you saw his wonderfully moving performances in WaterTower Theater's productions of Circle Mirror Transformation, Into the Woods and Our Town. He also starred last season in Contemporary Theatre's comedy Cheaters. Now working as WaterTower's House Manager, he's not acting as much as he used to, but Wold does share his acting skills as a private coach, helping young performers prep for college and professional theater auditions. Honorable mentions: Coy Covington, Stephen Bates, David H.M. Lambert, Aaron Roberts, Michael Corolla, Doug Jackson.